World championship leader Max Verstappen slammed the performance of his Red Bull on Saturday, saying it was “a shocking experience” not to make it to the top 10 shootout in qualifying.
Verstappen was eliminated in Q2 after finishing 11th fastest but he now faces penalties that could demote him to the back of the grid.
Verstappen will have to face race stewards to account for his actions after being accused of impeding cars in the pit lane and on the track as he tried to create a gap for a flying lap in qualifying.
“I knew it would always be tough to put it on pole. But this I didn’t expect,” Verstappen told reporters after he and teammate Sergio Perez were both eliminated in Q2.
It was the first time since the Russian Grand Prix in 2018 that neither Red Bull had made it into Q3.
“Throughout the weekend we have been struggling. FP3 was actually not too bad but then we tried a few more things on the car for qualifying and that tipped it over where it became undriveable again,” he added.
Verstappen is chasing a third world title and has a massive 145-point lead over Perez.
But the Dutchman has never triumphed under the lights in Singapore and faces an almost impossible task to end the drought at the street circuit after a torrid weekend when the Red Bulls were a long way off the pace.
“The car was massively bottoming out in the big braking zones, all the time if I wanted to brake late and hard, my front wheels were getting unloaded,” Verstappen said.
“It’s just a shocking experience and then trying to lean on the car in the slow speed corners, I was constantly sliding and had no traction. Just really difficult to drive.”
Verstappen has won the last 10 races in a row, finished 11th fastest in Q2 and was eliminated along with Perez, who was 13th.
Perez won in Singapore last year from the front row, but will have to make his 250th grand prix start in Sunday’s night race from down the grid.
Red Bull has won all 14 races so far this season, but Singapore’s Marina Bay Street circuit is shaping up as the biggest challenge to the team’s unprecedented quest to win all 22 races.
Verstappen has won 12 of the 14 races with Perez the only other driver to take the chequered flag.
Perez fared even worse than his teammate, spinning while attempting his final hot lap.
“Nothing seems to transform the balance,” said Perez. “I had a massive under delivery from the engine. It kicked really hard, and I ended up losing the car. It’s a shame, a massive shame. I think Q3 was possible.”
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